Exiting the matrix – the beginning
Hello from beautiful and magical Thailand. I’ve been here over a month and I’m slowly getting used to the island life. I have learned how to ride a scooter on the “wrong” side of the road, which cafes have the best coffee and discovered raw jackfruit. I’m still a yellow haired menace to society when on my bike but I’m getting better and pissing off fewer people with my driving.
Yesterday someone yelled at me on the road. I don’t know what they said but the tone was not nice. I decided to ignore them. I also noted that if you want to say something rude to someone, it works better if they actually hear you. Otherwise it’s a waste of air.
Being new in a country creates many opportunities to observe things and to compare them to the status quo I have become accustomed to. The experience of seeing how other cultures live is priceless. One could say it points out the things we take for granted, but for me, it points out how many unnecessary things we are obsessed about; namely our beliefs that if we do not do “such and such” or do not have “such and such” then something bad will happen.
I have many such observations. I will continue to write about them in the following newsletters.
Today I’d like to talk about something near and dear to my heart – shoes and our (or my) obsession with rules.
First, let’s talk about shoes. Or rather my extreme dislike of shoes. Human being were born with shoes. They are called feet. Feet are the best shoes there are. Second best are flip flops, because they can be easily removed.
Most restaurants and local stores here ask you to remove shoes. Sometimes these shoes get stolen. Or re-appropriated. Or nationalized. Like Amtrak rail passenger service. Did you know that The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) is a government owned corporation created in 1971 for the express purpose of relieving American railroads of their legal obligation to provide inter-city rail service?
But back to shoes. Which incidentally you absolutely must wear when taking Amtrak. But you must not wear them here, in restaurants, bars, clubs, homes.
People walk barefoot in the restaurant, the kitchen and (gulp) the bathroom. And you know what? Nothing bad happens. In fact, floors here are way less disgusting than in many U.S. McDonalds’, which when you think of it isn’t really saying much. Here I only wear shoes to walk to and from places, yet my feet are much cleaner than in California where I’m forced to wear shoes most of the time. Quite odd, don’t you think? (I will obstain from sending “proof” of my clean feet. You are welcome.)
The more shoeless freedom I discover the more I notice how obsessed we are with rules. Shoes, steel toe shoes, rubber mats, antibacterial soap, building inspections, paper towels, single use dishes.
Yes, a rule is usually made because something bad happened and there’s a desire to prevent it in the future. But I feel that all these rules we have (that indeed may have been created for our own good) put us in such tight boundaries that we get dumb and lazy. We don’t pay attention to what we are doing, where we are stepping. We leave trash behind because someone else will pick it up. We pee (or worse) all over the toilet seat because no one sits on that thing anyways since toilets are disgusting. And floors are dirty and disgusting too. So we might as well miss the toilet seat all together and leave a puddle in the floor. It’s not like anyone would come in there barefoot.
And so we litter, wear shoes and then sterilize everything.
But what if we didn’t litter. What if we picked up after ourselves, sat down carefully on the toilet seat, and took off shoes off when indoors? Would we need to do so much work to clean and sterilize? Would we need so many rules to make sure our society is healthy?
One of the biggest shocks in my life happened when I visited Japan a few years ago. I was I was sitting in a restaurant when I spotted a patron doing the most curious thing. She took a napkin and wiped off her soy sauce bottle because she noticed that a drop of soy sauce had spilled onto the bottle. I have never seen seen anyone do this in the US – because cleaning is what waiters get paid to do and by making a mess we are creating jobs.
Let’s stop and think for a second.
What if there were no external rules and that meant that the rules or rather ethics must come from the inside? Would there be so many workplace accidents? Would we create so much trash? Would we need so many cleaning supplies? Would we need to protect ourselves in germ resistant clothing and use paper towels instead of cloth towels? Would we be so alienated from nature?
What if we slowed down and paid attention to what we are doing? Would we need so many external rules to stay safe?
Perhaps a better question to ask is this: given our current lifestyle choices, can we slow down?
My thoughts are these: yes, we can but only if we change our framework of being. The way things are now, there are so many rules to remember and things to do in order to follow these rules that we don’t have time to slowdown and do things with conscious intention. We are stuck in a loop, in a cycle.
One of the things that working with plant medicine has made very visible for me is the mind loop. A mind loop is when you think the same thought over and over again. With plant medicine, all loops come to the surface and become impossible to ignore. This allows us to be able to observe them without medicine as well.
I’ve been paying attention to my thought patterns for quite a long time, learning to recognize when I’m stuck. And this is the loop I’m finding observing in myself now: my obsession with seeking out rules to follow and checking to see if others are doing the same. I look up at the tin roof at the gym and my first thoughts are, is it nailed down according to code and what would happen if a hurricane hits?
What would happen is that the roof will either hold or be damaged. And if it’s damaged, the damage will be corrected. Simple. I go to the bathroom in a little outdoor shack and I think, this mini building would definitely not pass inspection, meanwhile this is one of the cutest and the cleanest buildings I have been it. I eat the best curry in the world in an outdoor place with a dirt floor kitchen and I wonder about what a health inspector may say. And yet, my digestion here is the healthiest it has ever been in my entire life even though I hardly use soap and I drink a fruit smoothies from a reusable straw.
Why am I wasting my time thinking about building inspectors and health codes? Why am I not in the moment enjoying the warmth, the sun, the kind people?
Because I’ve been conditioned to follow rules. And to look for these rules, for these constraints everywhere I go. I taught myself to live within very narrow boundaries, god forbid I step out of these boundaries. And when these rules are not present, I still look for them. I automatically look for something to constrain myself within.
I’m like a dog who has been trained using an electric fence and now, even without the fence I fear stepping out of the boundaries of my home territory.
Perhaps I’m this way because I’ve been taught that safety resides within the boundaries of rules. And without strict rules I’ll be unsafe. Either I will do something stupid or another person will.
But is this the truth? Must we bind ourselves and others with rules in order to survive? Or there is another way?
As I seek my own answers, I leave you to ponder this too.
If you’d like to follow my travels, do friend me on Facebook (dina.kleiman) or IG (@dinaenergyhealer).